Express Electrical Services: Your Local Electricians Serving All of Southern California
A circuit breaker is a device that cuts off power if the current is too high. In the past, home electrical systems used fuses that would blow if there was an overload. Today, a circuit breaker panel consists of multiple breakers, each serving a different circuit. A breaker can be reset rather than replaced when it trips. Without this protection, electrical overloads could short out or melt electrical wiring, devices, and appliances. The consequences range from expensive damage to potentially deadly fires.
Once electricity enters your home from the power distribution grid, it enters a circuit where there’s a hot wire, connected to the outside energy source, and neutral wire that connects to a neutral source. Although electricity is delivered at a consistent voltage, your light bulbs, appliances, and other electrical devices cause resistance. It’s what enables them to work, but appliances are built so that current is kept below dangerous thresholds, although this isn’t always the case
That’s why homes have circuit breakers, which cut off the circuit when current exceeds safe levels.
How Does a Circuit Breaker Work?
An overload can be corrected by redistributing the load, or by plugging devices into another circuit. However, you don’t have this luxury while an overload is happening. A circuit breaker acts immediately so an unsafe current doesn’t lead to trouble.
Essentially a type of switch, the breaker is connected on both sides by the hot wire to an electromagnet. Electricity that flows through the wire, moving contact, stationary contact, and upper terminal magnetizes the electromagnet. Strong currents cause it to magnetize and pull down a metal lever. This causes the entire linkage to shift and the switch to move the contacts apart, breaking the circuit and cutting off electricity.
Other circuit breaker types have a bimetallic strip instead of an electromagnet. A thin strip of metal is bent by excessive current. Another type contains an explosive material, which when set off by high current, drives a piston to trigger the switch. Advanced designs monitor current and shut down the circuit electronically. A ground fault circuit interrupter is a newer type of breaker specifically designed to prevent electrical shocks, opening the circuit as soon as a current imbalance is detected.
Repairing a Circuit Breaker
Circuit breakers are typically found in a panel. They can be replaced, but you should not work on an electrical circuit breaker box unless you have experience. The general process involves shutting off the main breaker, removing the front metal covering, and loosening/removing the wire connected to the damaged/faulty breaker. Then the new breaker can be inserted, so long as it’s the same type and rating. Once the wire is re-inserted and the door re-installed, you can turn the main breaker back on to restore power.
Without the proper experience, training, and tools, you risk electric shock, burns, and severe injuries or death by working with electricity. Therefore, contact your local Los Angeles electricians for circuit breaker repair. Express Electrical Services employs trained, qualified electrical technicians who provide same-day electrical repairs and are available 24/7 for emergencies. Repairs can be completed quickly, avoiding mishaps that can cause injury, damage, and additional expenses.